I had a strange convulsion of fear the other day. At first I thought it was just a symptom of this Sober January madness that I’m currently embroiled in, but I soon realised: no, it wasn’t that. Or, at least, wasn’t just that.
I had in fact been suddenly taken over by an odd but powerful conviction that said that great movie monologues were a thing of the past. The Great Dictator, Patton, Network, Blade Runner, Glengarry Glen Ross, Pulp Fiction… All the greats appeared to exist in that aberrant, ancient, pre-2000 time.
And that seemed a shame, because while cinema is a visual medium and the cardinal rule is you should show, not tell; a good monologue — whether a barrage of verbiage or a few barked marching orders — works its own kind of magic. It reminds you of the directness and simplicity of the theatre, of the purity of the spoken word and of the tremendous power that lies therein. It’s easy to remember, when hearing carefully chosen words expertly strung together, that the history of humankind in some ways is the history of words.
So it seemed a shame that cinema had lost this.
But then I thought for, like, five seconds and remembered: ‘Oh wait, that’s ridiculous. There are loads of great modern monologues, you bellend.’
In which Tarantino creates a monster and redefines what the word ‘tension’ means.
V For Vendetta
In which Hugo Weaving’s voice could start a revolution in a heartbeat.
In which Edward Norton’s Monty tries to blame everyone and indulge every prejudice as a form of release before his life as he knows it is comes to an end, only to realise the only one he’s got to blame is himself.
In which Spike Jonze, Joaquin Phoenix’s face, and Scarlett Johansson’s voice cut all the onions in the room.
Killing Them Softly
In which the slightly heavy handed movie lays out its thesis in an extra heavy handed way at the end, just to make sure we didn’t miss it, but thanks to Jenkins and Pitt sells it completely.
In which there is no slow build up. You’re in this movie immediately.
There Will Be Blood
In which you should forget the memes and remember how terrifying one man reaching the logical conclusion of his journey can be.
In which he retracted it, didn’t he?!
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
In which, yes, Aragorn’s speech is glorious, but Bernard Hill kills it.
No Country For Old Men
In which it’s impossible to decide between this and the ending but I decided anyway.
Synechdoche, New York
In which Charlie Kaufman.
In which what the hell, Van Damme can act?!
Inside Llewyn Davis
In which I don’t have a clip but F. Murray Abraham destroys everything with one line:
“I don’t see a lot of money here.”